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Re: Blueberry/Unicode/XML

On Tue, 10 Jul 2001, Tim Bray wrote:
> Boy, this one's tough. 

Yep. And we've been there before, though by accident/ignorance
rather than design. Some will remember the early days of
character-mode browsers which didn't handle what we now count as
"normal" diacritics (eacute, auml, etc) because 7-bit ASCII was
the default. Even with acceptance of 8859-* the Welsh were still
disenfranchised because w-circumflex is a normal daily
character (unsolved unless it's been added somewhere I haven't
noticed). This wasn't a case of "characters not permitted", and
it related to data characters not names, so it was basically a
font-and-rendering problem, but the sense of 6 million users
having to settle for the non-usability of their language still

> Realistically, there are 3 options:
> 1. Leave it the way it is.
> 2. Do Blueberry and then repeat the process for Unicode 3.2
>    and 4.0 and so on every couple of years forever.
> 3. Bite the bullet, write the rules in terms of Unicode
>    metadata and go to a pure use-by-reference architecture,
>    probably adding a syntactic signal to reference the
>    Unicode version number.
> I think (3.) will prove to be really hard to do well - and 
> then the Unicode metadata fields might get changed and screw
> it all up.  I think (2.) is not unreasonable, but has the 
> institutional disadvantage that the XML standardization effort 
> has to become an ongoing process ad infinitum.  

As you say, a lot of this is trust: I prefer (3) if we can feel
safe that a by-reference approach will handle the problem.

> I still go for (1.).  My opposition to NEL has hardened,
> because of a strong fear that this one will cause real 
> wreckage on a widespread basis, not just in linguistic
> corner cases.
> But I really can't see how anyone can get behind any of 
> these positions and feel entirely comfortable with where
> they find themselves standing.  I sure don't. -Tim

If the case for (2) and (3) is not yet fully proven or soluble,
(1) must be the choice for the moment, with the matter to be